Sunday, February 27, 2011

Bill Bryson - Shakespeare et al.

My first opportunity to be delighted by Bill Bryson was several years ago - when I picked up his Walk in the Woods:  Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail.

I loved his dry humor, his "knack" for re-telling simple stories in funny narrative, and his ability to mix his own experiences with the experiences of others with a touch of encyclopedic/research data that teaches while it entertains. 

Additionally, the text was an audio-read for me - read by the author - and I enjoyed his pace, tone and tenor as I "walked" with him both through the book and through the Appalachians!  (Someday I'll get to hike it myself.  Someday!)

Since that reading years ago - I have thoroughly enjoyed each of the other books I've read by Bryson - except his personal memoir - the Thunderbolt Kid. So, No to Thunderbolt - but a big hearty sense of learning and enjoyment in reading (or audio-reading!) each of the following, including Walk in the Woods - AND:  A Short History of Nearly Everything, -- Notes from a Small Island,  --  In a Sunburned Country, and - most recently - Shakespeare:  The World As Stage.

With the completion of Shakespeare, like Bryson's other texts - I was amused and enlightened. In that sense, Bryson is both a great writer - and teacher!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Maxwell - Doing Something Great

John Maxwell has been writing for quite a few years - I used to listen to his top 100 lessons for leaders when I would commute from Colorado Springs to Denver - 3-4x per week.

He certainly is known for freely quoting from others - but in the process of his extensive qoutations - he has distilled quite a few persons other thoughts, in to great thoughts and sapiential wisdom of his own - usually in presented in simple and straightforward ways. 

I do like Maxwell's stuff - and though most of it can be easily read and discerned into a series of bullet points - he does a good job of taking lots of stuff - and distilling it down.  He's built his life on it, in fact!  And his stuff is easy to re-read as a simple re-view is all that is needed.

His most recent book:  Everyone Communicates, Few Connect - has simple ideas for, guess what, communicating in ways that connect.  Good review of some good ideas, for sure.

Here is my one "take away" from a story he narrates including Abraham Lincoln:

President Abraham Lincoln, an incredible communicator, was known during the Civil War to attend a church not far from the White House on Wednesday nights. The preacher, Dr. Gurley, allowed the president to sit in the pastor’s study with the door open to the chancel so he could listen to the sermon without having to interact with the crowd.

One Wednesday evening as Lincoln and a companion walked back to the White House after the sermon, the president’s companion asked, “What did you think of tonight’s sermon?”

“Well,” Lincoln responded, “it was brilliantly conceived, biblical, relevant, and well presented.”

“So, it was a great sermon?”

“No,” Lincoln replied. “It failed. It failed because Dr. Gurley did not ask us to do something great.”

As one who often preaches - - I would note, too - it seems that often times, too often - from the perspective of the pulpit - too often it is distressing and even depressing to ask persons to do something great - and have no person respond.  But, I am motivated by Lincoln - Maxwell's words to continue to invite persons to do something - something great!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Super Excited about this Summer Opportunity

The provost at the University where I teach, SNU, has known about the possibility of this for quite a few months - as she wrote one of my letters of reference.

But, I'm just now able to announce "to the world!"  I am thrilled.

SNU Professor Chosen as Rotary Peace Fellow

Posted on Thu, February 17, 2011

BETHANY, Okla. (February 17, 2011) - Southern Nazarene University professor, Marty Alan Michelson, Ph.D. was chosen to receive a fellowship opportunity from Rotary International.

Michelson was one of 19 recipients, from a pool of several hundred international applicants chosen for a full-ride scholarship and stipend for all expenses for 12 weeks at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand, summer 2011. Fellows earn the Professional Development Certificate in Peace and Conflict Resolution from the University curriculum. International Fellows work to improve health, support education, and alleviate poverty through real-life, international field experience on issues of peace, goodwill, causes of conflict, and world understanding. Fellows will advance a culture of tolerance and peace, enhancing knowledge and skill while engaging practitioners and academics in the arena of peace and conflict resolution.

“The Rotary Peace Fellowship’s purpose is to support and advance the issues of peace, goodwill, causes of conflict and world understanding. Marty’s educational and work experience make him an ideal candidate for the Fellowship. He will not only expand his knowledge of international relations and conflict resolutions, he will bring that knowledge back to the Unites States to positively impact our world,” commented Sheila Stinson, Rotary District 5750 Rotary Peace Fellowship committee chair.

Michelson is excited about his upcoming fellowship, “I am absolutely thrilled with this opportunity. Rotary’s mission is to provide service to others, promote integrity, and advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace. SNU hopes to graduate students who think with clarity, act with integrity and serve with purpose. This fellowship combines the best of Rotary’s mission with SNU’s purpose to have graduates and faculty who think, act and serve. I plan to use the investment of Rotary International in faithful ways to live as a peacemaker.”

Rotary is an organization of business and professional leaders united worldwide in humanitarian service -- has more than 1.2 million members in more than 33,000 clubs in over 200 countries and geographic regions. For more information, visit

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Blizzard in Oklahoma - Time to get off subject

We had a Blizzard in Oklahoma City - with the requisite need to cancel classes.

My office has been quiet and relatively warm with my space heater - and I've been doing work.

Teaching on Leviticus and Numbers for Nazarene Theological Seminary this spring - so have been doing class preparation and other reading, engagement in a host of texts - more on Numbers - this past weekend and week.  I've been piddling through Numbers commentary texts for months now - just not "reading them" in the same way I read other books that I post here.

Additionally, I will be with colleagues and old friends - and hopefully with new friends, in Idaho for the Wesley Center Conference - The Bible Tells Me So - in a few short days.  So, today I took sometime to actually write down some thoughts on Scripture, Authority, Inspiration and the like.  I had time to review a couple of books that helped me think through my own words/ideas.  The books I reviewed were excellent for starting the dialogue for me, before the conference dialogue begins.  The texts were Inspiration and Incarnation:  Evangelicals and the Problem of the Bible by Peter Enns and Engaging Biblical Authority:  Perspectives on the Bible as Scripture, edited by William P. Brown. 

But, my really off the subject issue is not so much off subject of my life's work (I hope!) - as much as it is just not central to what I should be doing!  I picked up The Politics of Jesus:  Rediscovering the True Revolutionary Nature of Jesus' Teachings and How They Have Been Corrupted by Obery Hendricks because I was looking up a single reference to a Markan textual issue for a sermon I plan to preach in February.  Well, confounded.  The book was too good to put down - so I read the whole thing today.  Thankfully, since it was a library text, I actually was able to read the whole thing.  Had it been "my text" I would not have made it through it in a day as I would have been filling the margins with notes.  But, since it was a library text, I just kept flipping the pages.  Great stuff in this text.  I'll likely have to purchase and re-read - but that will have to be for another day as this blizzard in Oklahoma has given me time to get off the subject(s) of where I should be working.  And now, it's time to get back to my unfinished projects which seem to be multiplying.

Side note.  I talked to an old friend tonight.  A friend from my university days in San Diego - 18 years ago.  She and I hadn't spoken (though we've interacted on Facebook recently) in at least 15 years.  What a delight, delight, delight to share friendship with great people - even if we only speak 1x in every 15 years!  I am blessed with great friends from a host of places through past university, church, and life engagement.  I am so very thankful this evening.  Delightful.  Just delightful.